Overview of Jamie Santos
Could a 911 call hold the clue to a Wheeling, IL woman’s murder?
Jamie Santos was one of a kind. By all accounts, she was independent and strong, living life on her terms. At age 27, Jaime lived alone with her two cats, Prince and Bandit. Family and friends meant the world to her. She cooked dinner for her parents once a week; her sister Laurie was her best friend. She was generous with her loved ones, buying her aunt a new wardrobe after she lost weight and bailing a friend out of jail. The Chicago Tribune reported, “if you were sick, she’d bring you soup and juice.”
Jamie aspired to be married and have kids, but she wasn’t having much luck with relationships. It wasn’t a lack of effort. She’d had a lot of boyfriends, but finding the right one just hadn’t been in the cards yet.
Though Jamie had a big heart, she wasn’t one to be trifled with. Jamie was dyslexic, but her dogged determination drove her to read the dictionary and memorize words. She is also described as tough, streetwise, and fiercely independent. In an article about Jamie, the Chicago Tribune described her as “one tough cookie.”
Her beauty and street-wise demeanor served her well in her job as an exotic dancer. Though she was pondering a different career, her parents said that it was hard for her to give up a job where she could call the shots and make a lot of money. Jamie was very successful as a dancer and made a lot of money for only a few nights of work each week. Her dad told the Chicago Tribune, “Jamie enjoyed her money. She made trips to Jamaica, drove a $25,000 car, she loved to shop. Her theory was a woman’s place is in the mall.”
The week before her murder
The week before her murder was filled with normal activities for Jamie. On Tuesday, October 22nd, 1991, she had a longtime friend cut her hair. Looking back, her friend says she thought Jamie wasn’t her usual self that day. She told the Chicago Tribune, “Usually, when she walked into a room, she kind of bounced in, laughing, telling jokes, doing something. But she was kind of quiet. A little on the sad side. I had a strange feeling about it.” Later that evening, Jamie and her parents had their usual weekly dinner; they felt she acted fine.
Jamie spent Friday night, October 25th, with her sister Laurie. They went to a Mexican restaurant, played some pool and hung out until the wee hours of the morning. The next day, she worked three parties. Her driver said there was nothing out of the normal that happened.
Sundays were often quiet days for Jamie, and Sunday October 27th was no exception. She told a friend that she wasn’t feeling well and that she was going to rent movies and stay in for the night.
The day of her murder
On Monday, October 28th, 1991, a man makes a 911 call. He was talking quickly, and he seemed a little nervous. He told the operator “Yeah, uh, send an ambulance or police, or someone, to 1765 Stonehedge Court in Wheeling, immediately. There's one young woman there who's not breathing. She's turning blue.” It is interesting to note that the man very carefully corrects the operator:
Caller: Yeah, get someone to 1765 Stonehedge Court in Wheeling, immediately. There is a young woman there who is not breathing. She is turning blue.
Operator #1: 1765 Stonehenge?
Caller: Stonehedge, HEDGE, like a bush.
When the operator asks the caller if he was in the home, the man hangs up.
Fire and paramedics arrive only five minutes after the call. They find the door to her house closed but not locked. Jamie is on her bedroom floor, dressed in a knee-length nightshirt and underwear. She later passed away due to suffocation. Investigators say that her apartment was neat, and there were no signs of a struggle. She had not been sexually assaulted, and there were no drugs in her system.
Where the case stands today
The police have investigated many leads but have been unable to locate Jamie’s killer. Law enforcement were hopeful when they obtained surveillance footage by the pay phone from which the 911 call was made. The pay phone was located in a strip mall just a half mile from Jamie’s home. It showed a man entering and leaving a liquor store about the time of the call, but he has been excluded. There were also fingerprints in the apartment, but so far, no one has matched to them. Police released the 911 call, but all leads there also failed to turn up a suspect.
Many have tried to tie Jamie’s murder to her job as an exotic dancer. Police, though have been quick to say that they don’t believe there’s a connection. No forced entry or signs of struggle led many to believe that Jamie may have known her killer. It’s hard to imagine that a woman as savvy as Jamie would let someone unknown to her in her apartment.
Why did the man call 911? Is it possible that he felt guilty about hurting Jamie? Some reports say that Jamie's head was placed on a pillow after she was suffocated. This would also indicate that the perpetrator cared about Jamie.
Police believe that the 911 caller could hold the key to unlocking this mystery. Statements from law enforcement vary on whether they believe the caller was the actual perpetrator of the crime; they do agree, however, that this person could hold information valuable to the investigation. If you know anything about the murder of Jamie Santos or believe that you know the identity of the 911 caller, please contact the Wheeling Police Department at (847) 459-2632.